Bruce's Reviews > The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
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Jan 18, 11

Read in January, 2011

First produced in 1945, this play features the Wingfields, a tenement family consisting of the mother Amanda, her daughter Laura, and her son Tom, who narrates the story. Amanda’s husband has long since abandoned the family. Laura is 24 and slightly crippled, painfully shy and reclusive, spending most of her time with her collection of small glass animal figurines. Tom, who aspires to be a poet, works in a warehouse, supporting the family. Amanda is intent on finding a match for Laura because Laura has refused to return to typing school and thus will not and probably cannot get a job. Amanda clearly feels that as a Southern belle she came down in the world when she married her husband, a telephone line worker, and moved to St. Louis. She is endlessly critical of her children, a measure of her love and concern but also an oppression for them both. Finally she convinces Tom to bring home a co-worker, Jim, whom Laura had worshipped from afar in high school. Jim and Laura gradually warm to each other during the visit until Jim reveals that he is engaged to be married and leaves. The play ends with the family sinking back into its frustrated lethargy before Tom himself leaves home for the last time, ever thereafter haunted by his love for Laura.

The play moves through a series of recurrent mildly caustic crescendos but at that same time has a tender and lyrical quality, hope alternating with the awareness of final hopelessness, family love straining against the sense of entrapment and constriction. Tenderness can represent imprisonment, and liberation can come at a painful price.
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